Financial advisors generally seem to like the idea of being able to move to a firm where they can operate as they see fit, but few actually do so.

Researchers at Cerulli Associates Inc., Boston, have published that finding in a summary of results from an advisor survey.

About 65% of wirehouse advisors said they would prefer to go independent if they made a move; with 33% saying they would prefer the independent broker-dealer model; and 32% saying they would prefer to join or establish a registered investment advisory firm.

Only 19% of the wirehouse advisors said their first choice would be to go to another wirehouse.

When Cerulli researchers looked at the actual behavior of advisors, they found that only 27% of wirehouse advisors who have changed employers in the past have moved to the IBD or RIA channels.

Cerulli researchers found that 44% of departing wirehouse advisors went to another wirehouse and that 17% went to a regional broker-dealer.

Compensation is one factor that has kept advisors in the wirehouse channel, Cerulli researchers report.

But the recent market decline has wiped out much of the value of the long-term stock options that once tied wirehouse advisors to the wirehouses.

Advisors also have stuck with major wirehouses because of the warehouses’ apparent stability.

But the recent economic turmoil now has raised questions about the continuing stability or even existence of some of the wirehouses, Cerulli researchers write.